May 11: Only in Israel

In spite of these facts, we love riding the bus. Why? Only in Israel can one meet friends on the bus and talk with them.

Only in Israel
Sir, – I just loved Herb Keinon’s “Busing it” (Out There, May 8).
In Chicago, my husband and I each had a car and seldom used public transportation. We’ve been here for 20 years now, don’t own a car and love riding the bus.
Keinon is right, in that one has to put up with “keeping your equilibrium and patience in the face of onion smells, dripping tehina and the sneezing masses, to say nothing of the screaming, crying kids, and the stifling summer heat.”
In spite of these facts, we love riding the bus. Why? Only in Israel can one meet friends on the bus and talk with them. In Chicago, no one talks on the bus. On our Number 7 bus here, it’s a social occasion.
Why else? Where else can one find someone getting on the back of the bus and handing down money to the driver, from one person to the next, and having the change handed back, one person to the next? Where else can the person who got on the back of the bus hand forward his multi-trip ticket, get it punched and handed back to him? Where else can a mother get on, hand her child to a person sitting nearby, and go up to pay the driver? Where else do younger people get up for older people, especially those with canes and other disabilities? Where else do teenagers going to or coming back from school automatically go toward the rear of the bus and not take up seats in front? As to the summer heat, most of our buses in Jerusalem are now air-conditioned.
All of these mentioned questions can be answered by: “Only in Israel!” Keinon is right when he says: “Character can be discovered – and built – while riding the buses in this country.”
Change the sheets
Sir, – Your editorial “Arab MKs’ hypocrisy” (May 8) does not sufficiently stress the responsibility of the Knesset members to police their own colleagues.
There are by-laws in place to evict or punish traitors to the country that these MKs are pledged to uphold. The Knesset soils its own bed in sharing with them Israel’s highest legislative body.
Throw him a bone
Sir, – I hate to admit it, but Amram Mitzna is right (“Mitzna blames Pollard’s continued incarceration on Netanyahu,” May 6).
That Jonathan Pollard remains in prison is due directly and solely to the prime minister’s obdurate nature.
All Netanyahu needs to do is throw Obama a bone. He should declare a total and indefinite housing freeze in the settlements and stop making impossible demands of the Palestinians – that they accept the existence of a Jewish state, that they forswear terrorism, that any agreement reached is a final agreement – before sitting down to final peace talks.
Yeah, right!
Tel Aviv
Don’t bother
Sir, – In your May 6 editorial (“Befuddled Britain”), you mention the confusing and mixed message that country is sending to Israel by forcing it to make concessions to the Palestinian Authority. If history has taught us anything about the British, it is that we should not be surprised at their behavior vis-a-vis the Jewish state.
You were far too magnanimous.
From their retreat on the Balfour Declaration to the abandonment of the Jews in Europe during the Holocaust, as well as the blockade of Palestine in 1945-48), we have a long list of grievances that have never been satisfied or settled.
Compare the reaction of Downing Street to the bin Laden killing as opposed to the Mabhouh killing, and the expulsion of an Israeli diplomat from Britain.
The fact that Israel is a vibrant, stable democracy that shares many values with the British people is of no interest to the British government.
It is quite clear that the mood in the UK is very anti-Israel and that additional attempts to lobby for its support are a wasted effort.
Petah Tikva
Ask the doctor
Sir, – I agree with “Medical honesty is the new best policy” (Comment & Features, May 6).
Readers should be aware, however, that psychiatric medication is also used for non-psychiatric illnesses.
This point is not mentioned in the article. For example, Doxepin, an anti-depressant, can be used to treat hives. Therefore, before coming to any conclusions regarding the severity of medical problems, one must speak with the prescribing physician.
Petah Tikva
Not conducive
Sir, – In “Gov’t to invest NIS 12m. in Nazareth” (May 5), I find it odd that the huge billboard posted near the Basilica of Annunciation stating, “And whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers,” has not been removed.
How do we expect to encourage tourism to this site with a sign that is offensive to everyone who is not Muslim? I can’t imagine that our Christian tourists are happy to see that sign on the way to church.
Kfar Saba
If it ain’t broke...
Sir, – Something happened last week that reflects on a throwaway closing statement Gil Troy wrote in “Three steps to a two state solution” (Center Field, April 6). He suggested that Israel continue its dismantling, beginning with all illegal outposts, and continuing with “a serious national conversation about which settlements to abandon.”
Outlining a further short list of non-starters, including each side taking responsibility for the worries of the other, he assumed that “this delicate stage should take at least two years.” His closing included a statement that many would agree with: “...Israelis have controlled too many Palestinians for too long....”
In my combative mood I asked myself: “Exactly how long is ‘too long?’” The English conquered the French in Canada almost 250 years ago. Except for a brief rebellion in Manitoba, the French were resigned to their subjugation. They even fielded a regiment of volunteers to fight for king and country in the First World War.
Last week, in a national election, the separatist Bloc Quebecois fell in representation to four seats out of 75 Quebec ridings.
Earlier in his column, Troy commented that “As a result of Netanyahu’s “economic peace”... the Palestinian economy is growing 9% annually. The average minimum wage increased 6.5%. Tourist traffic... surged 49%. Israeli-Palestinian joint ventures are proliferating, with building permits up 23%.”
My suggestion to Troy is, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
The statistics he brought reflect history in the making. I would build on that as the root of eventual accommodation between the two peoples rather than on pipe dreams of attitudes being changed by the imposition of borders.
Incidentally, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s advocacy of Israel didn’t hurt him – his party won an absolute majority, freeing him from the coils of a coalition.
May Bibi be so blessed!
$64,000 question
Sir, – Why do Western educated liberals who value free speech, religious freedom, freedom of sexual orientation and other privileges support regimes like Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, Egypt and Syria, to name but a few, but hate democratic Israel, where all minorities can observe these values without fear of persecution? If I had $64,000, I would gladly give it to anyone who could answer this baffling question.
Ma’aleh Adumim